Line honours favourite The Fork in the Road has swept to the lead overnight in the Riversdale Estate Wines L2H and at 06:00 hours this morning was abeam of Eddystone Point on Tasmania’s East Coast.
The powerful, Bakewell-White 45, skippered by former Olympic sailor Gary Smith, had already picked up a freshening north-easterly breeze and, according to the race tracker, was dashing south at more than 9 knots.
Eddystone Point, with its towering lighthouse, is 185 nautical miles from Hobart and if The Fork in the Road can maintain close to its current boatspeed she should finish off Castray Esplanade between 6am and 11am on Saturday morning.
The bigger yachts in the 26-boat fleet appear to have maintained reasonable boatspeed and direction sailing through the Banks Strait overnight.
At 06:00 hours today the fleet order was The Fork in the Road, Tilt, Filepro, B&G Advantage, Rad and Heatwave as they cleared Banks Strait and entered the Tasman Sea.
Not so many of the smaller boats, with the satellite tracker showing several of them caught up in the notorious tides and currents of the Banks Strait, some doing circles in the light overnight wins.
Two hours later (08:00 hours) all the fleet had cleared Banks Strait and were sailing under spinnaker out in the Tasman Sea, the next ‘obstacle’ being The Mercury Passage between historic Maria Island and the East Coast mainland between Triabunna and Orford.
Computer assessments of satellite-tracked positions of each boat show the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club boat Lawless at the top of both the IRC and PHS leaderboards.
Skippered by Stephen McElwee, the Green 31 is 18th in the fleet, just ahead of the RYCT entry Footloose, Stewart Geeves’ Young 88 as they headed towards Eddystone Point. Footloose is provisionally listed as first in the AMS category.
Despite her much higher rating, fleet leader The Fork in the Road is second in the AMS category and third in IRC as she continues to open up her lead as she races south towards Saint Helen’s Point.
– Peter Campbell